Near-universal access to the internet has provided us all with many benefits – and just as many curses. There is one internet experience we all seem to ‘enjoy’ – the scammer.
It may be the email from an African prince offering to share their wealth if you’ll just help them get it out of their country – via your bank account, of course.
Or the pre-recorded phone message from the Tax Office warning you that you “tax number has been suspended and a warrant has been issued for your arrest.”
The internet should make these scams easy to see through, should make it easy to check the legitimacy, but sadly it seems to have made more people vulnerable.
To be sucked in by these scammers, deceivers and charlatans – as serious and tragic as it is – is nowhere near as serious and tragic as being sucked in by religious scammers, deceivers and charlatans.
And unfortunately, the Christian church is rife with them too. They are often immensely popular and influential too.
Where do you find your greatest delight?
That’s the challenging question Mike asked us yesterday. Is it in your possessions – your craftsman-built home, your European car, your designer clothes or expensive jewellery?
Let’s be honest, those things can be pleasurable to own. They bring us delight, in no small part because they are often beautifully designed and made to a higher quality than cheap imports.
You might have simpler tastes – or less money though. You might find your delight in your swag and your unstoppable 4WD. It matters not what our tastes are, nor how far our bank balance will take us. We can find delight in all sorts of things.
But we need to be careful where we find our greatest delight, because all these things can also aid in our spiritual downfall by distracting us from more important things.
Most Christians I know are disappointed that their family and friends aren’t Christians also. We have discovered the joy of knowing Christ, why can’t they? Why are they so uninterested, even antagonistic towards Christ and Christianity? Why can’t they see what we see in Him?
Is it our fault, we wonder? Have we been too pushy, too much of a Bible-basher, and turned them off? Or maybe we’ve been too timid, frightened to even let them know we are Christians?
Or maybe we’ve been too much like the world – or not enough like the world – to please them and get their interest?
Or how about, we don’t have enough faith to claim them for salvation? After all, doesn’t one of the Psalms say, “Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance”? Why don’t I have enough faith for that?
12 months of COVID has taught us all to sanitise. We sanitise our hands, we sanitise table tops, we sanitise the shopping trolley, we sanitise everything in sight, just to be safe.
Have we become an over-sanitised world, unable to withstand any bugs? Maybe. Certainly, we have become increasingly socially sanitised in my lifetime.
When I was a kid, it was not unusual for a school student to carry a rifle on the bus to school if he had Army Cadets after school. No one batted an eyelid.
If someone tried that now, he’d strike terror into everyone around him, he’d be pounced on by SWAT teams, and it would be front-page news.
In days gone by, it was not unusual for mum’s roast chicken dinner to start with dad carrying an axe into the henhouse. I won’t go into detail about what came next. But there was nothing strange about it.
Now, we buy all our meat in plastic trays from the supermarket. We don’t have to think about what goes into providing that meat for us.
Some even imagine that supermarket meat must be better, because “no animals had to die to provide it for us.” That’s how far removed modern society has taken us from the sometimes harsh and brutal realities of life.
So what are we to make of hymn lyrics like the ones William Cowper (pronounced ‘Cooper’) wrote in the mid-1700s?
“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins.
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.”